THAILAND POL: Thailand's first elected parliament since a military coup 16 months ago has chosen a top adviser to ousted leader Thaksin Shinawatra as prime minister. The new parliament elected 72-year-old Samak Sundaravej (today/Monday), the head of the People Power Party. Mr. Samak says that having served five times as a Cabinet minister and three times as a deputy minister, he has the experience to lead the country. The new prime minister says he is in regular contact with Mr. Thaksin, but told VOA he is not the former prime minister's puppet.
CHINA-SNOW: Chinese media say the worst snow storms to hit the country in 50 years have killed dozens of people and affected millions of others ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday. Officials today (Monday) said the weather is likely to continue and ordered urgent measures to be taken to address shortages and resolve transportation problems. Premier Wen Jiabao said Sunday that the bad weather in central, eastern and southern China is threatening lives and causing shortages of food, fuel and electricity.
WORLD ECONOMY: As ian markets fell sharply today (Monday) on fears a recession in the United States will weaken the demand for Asian exports. China's Shanghai Composite Index tumbled more than seven percent while the Nikkei in Tokyo and Sensex in Mumbai were both down almost four percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dropped more than five percent. The major European indexes in London, Paris and Frankfurt are also down in early trading, but much less than Asia, dropping a little more than one percent.
BUSH SPEECH: President Bush goes before the U.S. Congress and the American people Monday night to deliver the annual State of the Union Address. Since this is the final year of Mr. Bush's presidency, White House aides say he will not spend much time looking over the past year's events. Instead, they say, his annual report to Congress and the nation will focus on the future, listing priority issues for his last year in office.
Audio in Lao.